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Gilas Pilipinas books historic win after outlasting Senegal in OT

The Philippines booked its first win at the world level of basketball in 40 years after outlasting Senegal, 81-79, in overtime on Thursday in Sevilla, Spain.

The victory ended a string of heartbreak losses for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. It was also the country's first win at the world championship since the 1974 edition of the tournament.

Gilas did it with its big fighting heart after having to play the final 1:55 of the game without naturalized player Andray Blatche, who committed his fifth and last foul trying to stop a Senegal fastbreak.

Instead of folding, Gilas stuck together to bring the victory home.

With the Philippines down 71-69 in overtime, Ranidel De Ocampo found June Mar Fajardo underneath for a dunk to tie the game. Free throws from the two big men gave Gilas a 75-71 edge, before Jimmy Alapag hit the floor hard on a fastbreak play causing a mild commotion on the court.

The Gilas team captain shook off the pain to score two free throws and give Gilas a 77-71 lead. But Senegal, which had scored upset wins over Croatia and Puerto Rico earlier in the tournament, quickly struck back with a three-pointer with 37 seconds left to keep within striking distance, 77-74.

Free throws from Alapag and Gabe Norwood kept the Philippines lead out of reach, before a last-second three-pointer by Senegal settled the final score.

It was another late scare for Gilas, which lost close matches to Croatia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico earlier in the competition. Senegal came roaring back in the second half after trailing by 13 points, 37-24, at halftime.

Alapag, in his last international game for the Philippines, scored 18 points. Fajardo had his best game of the tournament, scoring 15 points and grabbing rebounds while playing both alongside and in lieu of Blatche, who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. — JST/NB, GMA News